zen.org Communal Weblog

August 3, 2008

Acceptable Bigotry?

Filed under: — alice @ 18:18 IST

As of today, Sunday 3rd August 2008, Google reports that there are 981,000 Web sites on which Barack Obama is “accused,” “suspected” and “thought to be” Muslim.

He is, of course, a Christian. However, IMO, that fact is totally, utterly and absolutely irrevelant.

What deeply disturbes me is that none of the news reports/sites/comments I’ve found never even comes near to apologising to members of the Islamic Faith for the obnoxious, overt, bigoted slurs against them.

What would be our reactions to similar comments about our being “suspected,” of being Roman Catholic, Evangelical Chirstian, Jewish, Hindi, Taosit, Bhuddist or any other Faith?

Is this sort of thing just? Is it fair? Is it respectful of others?

I think not. For shame.

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December 5, 2007

Bush, Cheney and Iran

Filed under: — alice @ 01:25 IST

Busted!

At least this time their lies were exposed before the shooting started. It should be interesting to see how long it takes them to fabricate a different excuse to start the new war they are so obviously hell-bent on instigating.

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October 3, 2007

The fine art of spam writing

Filed under: — alice @ 16:03 IST

This arrived in my mailbox just a few minutes ago; couldn’t resist sharing:

“Dear Customer
We are coorporate lenders. we give out loans to A very honest and reliable
personalities. we give out our loans at low interest rate and moderate values as cheap as
4% rate. Becuase of scam we tender our qualifications if it satisfies, you can continue
with the transaction, but if you are not satisfied you can go to another lender. Channel
your reponse to this email.
jamespeter16@gmail.com
Greatest Regards
Marketing Manager

Mr Peter James.”

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August 2, 2007

America: Arrogant Materialism Even in the Face of Horrendous Tragedy

Filed under: — alice @ 20:05 IST

As the world now knows, the city of Minneapolis in the US State of Minnesota suffered an overwhelming catastrophe last night, as one of its major bridges collapsed into the Mississippi River, taking with it the lives, hopes, loves and dreams of several dozen innocent people. Nothing can ease the pain of the families, friends, neighbours and colleagues impacted by this horrendous event and for whom people around the globe now pray.

Yet, on every U.S. TV news report, Government Officials have engaged in a constant repetition of the words, “This is the United States of America; bridges aren’t supposed to fall down here.”

For a country which has spent billions upon billions to mount an illegal, murderous war against a nation which never posed any threat to it, whilst at the same time disregarding its own failing infrastructure and humane needs, this is a truly disgusting attitude.

But then, superciliousness and presumption of some imaginary superiority have never been lacking in America … especially and most obviously so, since the G. W. Bush Administration seized power.

It is heartbreakingly sad, yet at the same time overwhelmingly offensive, that any nation should assume so haughty a position as to claim its people deserve to be safer or more highly valued than those of any other country. Still, one has to assume that is nothing at all new for the self-aggrandizing United States.

Even more difficult to swallow is the interview one of the financial networks did with an investment adviser who said: “As soon as I heard [of the tragedy], my first thought was: ‘what will this do to the grain market?’

What a pathetically apt illustration of American priorities.

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December 1, 2006

Millions of US Citizens to be Given Secret 'Travel Risk Assessment' Scores

Filed under: — alice @ 21:11 IST

Just one more illustration of the increasingly glaring fact that “The Land of the Free” is anything but … the Paranoid-in-Chief and his toadies strike again!

from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

American Travelers to Get Secret ‘Risk Assessment’ Scores
Washington, D.C. – An invasive and unprecedented data-mining system is set to be deployed on U.S. travelers Monday, despite substantial questions about Americans’ privacy. In comments sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the agency to delay the program’s rollout until it makes more details available to the public and addresses critical privacy and due process concerns.The Automated Targeting System (ATS) will create and assign “risk assessments” to tens of millions of citizens as they enter and leave the country. Individuals will have no way to access information about their “risk assessment” scores or to correct any false information about them. But once the assessment is made, the government will retain the information for 40 years — as well as make it available to untold numbers of federal, state, local, and foreign agencies in addition to contractors, grantees, consultants, and others.

“The government is preparing to give millions of law-abiding citizens ‘risk assessment’ scores that will follow them throughout their lives,” said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. “If that wasn’t frightening enough, none of us will have the ability to know our own score, or to challenge it. Homeland Security needs to delay the deployment of this system and allow for an informed public debate on this dangerous proposal.”

Earlier this month, EFF’s FLAG Project submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to DHS seeking more details about the ATS data-mining program, but the agency has not yet disclosed the requested information.

For EFF’s full comments to DHS: http://www.eff.org/Privacy/ats/ats_comments.pdf For the DHS Federal Register notice announcing ATS: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/06-9026.htm

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May 13, 2006

Arrogance by the Numbers

Filed under: — alice @ 18:07 IST

From The Financial Times

Bush administration’s telephone snooping

George W. Bush assured Americans this week that his administration was doing nothing illegal by maintaining a record of telephone calls made by about 200m US subscribers. But the president has already made clear that his definition of what is legal applies to virtually anything he chooses to authorise in the name of national ­security.

The leak on Thursday to the USA Today newspaper revealing that the US National Security Agency was keeping a log of billions of calls made each year in America – in what is surely the largest database ever assembled – is troubling at many levels. It is the latest example of the administration’s habit of intruding on American freedoms – whether the right to privacy, habeas corpus or other ironclad constitutional protections – without having obtained permission from the courts or Congress.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, Mr Bush de­clared America was engaged in a war that had no apparent territorial or temporal limits. He also made it clear he believed it was the president’s prerogative to decide how, where and when to conduct the war on terror – or any other war – without recourse to Congress. Mr Bush’s doctrine, which some call the “new imperial presidency”, strikes at the heart of America’s constitutional separation of ­powers.

The implications of Mr Bush’s doctrine are too manifold to enumerate here. But it is worth restating the most egregious. Since 2001 Mr Bush has decreed that it is the right of the executive alone to decide who – whether American or foreign – qualifies as an “unlawful enemy combatant” and then to detain that person without access to a lawyer or possibility of trial for an indefinite period, until death if necessary. Likewise, Mr Bush has absolved himself from following US and international laws that ban the use of torture for certain categories of people who are determined by the executive alone. Any attempt by Congress to constrain the administration by enacting new statutes is treated as advisory rather than legally binding. Mr Bush has appended more than 500 “signing statements” to new laws that give him the right to interpret what the law means. The most shocking example was Mr Bush’s assertion of the president’s right to ignore elements of a bill enacted by Congress last December that outlawed the use of torture.

In the words of the pro-Republican Cato Institute, Mr Bush’s doctrine states that, “when we’re at war, anything goes, and the president gets to decide when we’re at war”. Any attempt to question Mr Bush’s doctrine or to divulge its operational detail to the public is portrayed as assisting America’s enemies, including al-Qaeda. The only safeguard proffered against the executive’s abuse of these extraordinary wartime powers is that Mr Bush can be trusted to do the right thing.

None of this is to dispute the fact that the fight against terrorism is different to the prosecution of conventional war and might necessitate the temporary curbing of certain freedoms, including the right to privacy. Most reasonable people, including judges, legislators and ordinary citizens, can agree on this. But Mr Bush’s actions go much further. Ultimately, they are also self-defeating. Whether or not Congress turns Democrat in November, Mr Bush faces a constitutional backlash that is probably unstoppable. In pursuit of the imperial presidency, Mr Bush has turned himself into a very premature lame duck.

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May 10, 2006

The Bush Administration at Work

Filed under: — alice @ 15:56 IST

This story from today’s The Washington Post is a perfect illustration of way George W. Bush’s corrupt Administration operates:

Costly Words: ‘I Don’t Like President Bush’
By Al Kamen
Wednesday, May 10, 2006; A23
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson was back home in Dallas on April 28 giving a speech to minority real estate folks and offering a most interesting take on how business is done in Washington.

Jackson, former head of the Dallas Housing Authority, recounted a conversation he had in the nation’s capital with a minority publisher.

“He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years,” Jackson said of the bidder, according to an account of the speech in the Dallas Business Journal. “He made a heck of a proposal and was on the GSA [General Services Administration] list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him.

“Then he said something. . . . He said, ‘I have a problem with your president.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t like President Bush. ‘ I thought to myself, ‘Brother, you have a disconnect — the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn’t be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don’t tell the secretary.’ “He didn’t get the contract,” Jackson continued. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.”

Dallas Business Journal reporter Christine Perez asked HUD spokeswoman Dustee Tucker , who attended the speech, about the value of the yanked advertising contract. Perez was told that could not be provided.

“Because it was not awarded per what the secretary said, we don’t have any record of it,” Tucker said. “It was probably all verbal at that point.” Tucker didn’t return calls yesterday. But Democrats, led by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), called for Jackson’s head.

Aside from violating the Constitution’s prohibitions on government retaliation for speech, we’re told Jackson’s peculiar view may violate federal procurement law, which requires “complete impartiality and . . . preferential treatment for none.”

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April 21, 2006

A Good Place to Live?

Filed under: — alice @ 19:36 IST

The nation involved is a large, wealthy and powerful one; but …

– Government officials reserve to right to eavesdrop on your telephone calls, read your email, search your home, investigate your political interests and personal background, all unbeknownst to you and without Court approval.

– Anyone who voices disagreement with the Rulers’ policies, actions or behaviour is automatically labelled disloyal, unpatriotic and suspect.

– Your name, ethnicity and/or appearance are considered reasonable grounds for anonymous imprisonment without charge, for an indeterminate period and without access to legal counsel or contact by family or friends.

– The party in power creates laws favouring the wealthiest citizens and pays for them by plundering support for education, elderly services, aid to the poverty-stricken, and food and heating assistance to the poorest of citizens.

– Laws pertaining to health care, environmental protection and corporate taxation are written by and for the corporations most directly affected … many of whom have close financial ties to Government Officials.

– The Country’s Head of State creates lies and distortions on which to base an order to invade, bomb and loot a non-threatening nation, resulting in unknown deaths, injuries, hardships and extraordinary degrees of suffering amongst innocent, helpless civilians. All in the name of “Freedom,” “Democracy” and “Individual Rights.”

– At the same time, that Head of State warmly welcomes a dictator internationally recognised as a vicious suppressor of human rights, with much pomp and ceremony and then, apologies to that dictator for any discomfort created by a brave woman who spoke up and publicly protested the dictator’s unspeakable outrages in their mutual home country.

– The woman is subsequently arrested and charged with the Federal Offence of “Threatening a Foreign Leader” for voicing objections to the dictator’s suppression of and violence against the philosophical organisation to which she belongs.

If you think that sounds like a good place to live … welcome to the United States. You can have it.

[PS: Finances, alone, have prevented me from long since moving back home to Dublin. Anyone thinking of emigrating to the US needs to think long and hard about the sort of society in which s/he really wants to live.]

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March 7, 2006

Interesting Informal Poll Results

Filed under: — alice @ 16:25 IST

On a recent episode of the tv programme “Family Feud” [the US version of “Family Fortune”], 100 people were asked to name a famous person to whom they’d like to give a lie-detector test … out of those 100 Americans, 47 responded “Pres. Bush.”

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February 9, 2006

Great Line :D

Filed under: — alice @ 16:22 IST

Bono on U2’s five Grammy Award wins last night:
“If you think this is going to go to our head, it’s too late.”

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